Les Kiss, London Irish Head Coach, thanked the Exile Nation faithful who made the trip to Tyneside as London Irish conquered Newcastle Falcons in Round 19 of the Gallagher Premiership.
With supporters from both persuasions packing out Kingston Park on Sunday afternoon, Kiss credited the effect of the vocal Irish fandom as his side took a 34-19 win against Dave Walder’s side.
The Exiles bagged five tries on the day; former resident of the North East Josh Basham leading the charge alongside scores from Tom Pearson, Danilo Fischetti, Matt Cornish and Ollie Hassell-Collins.
On an afternoon where Irish picked up successive away league wins for the first time in three years, the coach spoke of the increased mental fortitude that has seen the squad take vital points in the final stretch of the season.
“There were a few things that impressed me, the start was crucial for us, but seeing that crowd today – Newcastle brought a fantastic crowd, and it was full to the rafters,” Kiss told.
“But London Irish always has a good travelling fan base that follow us everywhere, that gave us a big, big support.
“We knew that after watching Newcastle play Saracens last week and throughout the year in general, that they fight for every inch.
“We were probably a little ill-disciplined and lost focus in the middle part of the game, and they came back into it.
“That’s where I feel we have grown as a team in the last three or four years, we find a way to stabilise and get back to our strengths, and I believe we did that in the following period to take the game away from Newcastle.”
Kiss’ side set the tone early on with three touchdowns in the opening 25 minutes, Basham’s a particular highlight with a satisfying flowing sequence of play enabled by a switch in direction of attack.
Asked on the opening exchanges of the game, the boss underlined the need for Irish to move swiftly into the tie against a side of Falcons’ determination.
“Across our season, I think it’s up there for sure, and we needed that opening.
“You saw they came back, and we needed to make sure they took the crowd out of play and bring our support into play too.
“It was neat and tidy, we executed a number of areas that we planned to expose like the return to the shortside in the first try.
“It came off, so the focus and commitment to that call was brilliant and it made for a good start.”
Newcastle would have their say however, bookending half-time with three tries of their own to bring the game to a deadlock in the third quarter.
Falcons Matthew Dalton, Jamie Blamire and Carl Fearns all touched down with the match standing at 19-19 after 50 minutes on the clock, but 15 unanswered points from Irish in the game’s remainder would shut out the hosts.
Resilience remained the decisive factor in the contest for Kiss and his management team, with Irish “sticking to their processes” in order to attain five valuable points.
“They came back into it however, they’re a proud team and they are proud people.
“But for us to resource that resilience we needed to finish off the game, stay on track, back our processes and stay true to the basics was really impressive.
“We got a beautiful try off the counter showed how we stayed strong to those processes, so we are happy with how that went.”
The win positioned Irish fifth in the Premiership standings, just two points adrift of the play-off spots with three of their remaining four league games at the Gtech Community Stadium.
The run-in continues this Sunday against second-place Sale Sharks, a fixture Kiss and the team have already started building towards.
He concluded: “I think there is a lot still in play, the win puts us in touching distance for sure.
“However, there are still plenty of other contenders so we must stay focused.
“Sale bounced back to form and beat Saracens, and we have them next week so we’ll have to take each week as it comes.”